Wednesday 29th February 2012

Avaaz: Syrian Activists Help Second journalist Escape From Homs

Avaaz can confirm that a second journalist, Javier Espinosa, has at last reached Lebanon from the shell-blasted Syrian city of Homs this afternoon. During his three day journey he was assisted by a team of brave and committed Syrian activists who were supported by Avaaz.  In the last seven days they have managed to rescue 47 injured Syrians from Baba Amr.

Javier Espinosa left Baba Amr with Paul Conroy and the Syrian activists on Sunday.  But after the Syrian Army shelled the fleeing party,  he was separated from Conroy and the activists as he stopped to tend to the wounded and severely injured. For several hours he was unaided before he was reunited with a group that were able finally to escort him to safety in Lebanon.

Sadly two more journalists, Edith Bouvier and William Daniels, remain trapped in Homs tonight as a full scale ground invasion of the Baba Amr neighbourhood appeared to begin. Government forces were today engaged in an assault on four fronts after the most severe shelling of the last 26 days where over 20,000 people remain.

Avaaz is disappointed with the irresponsible behaviour of the Spanish Embassy in Lebanon who have released information before all the journalists are safely out of the country.

To our immense sadness,13 brave Syrian volunteers were killed in the  evacuation attempt.

  • Three were killed as they tried to help all four journalists to exit Baba Amr on Sunday night. Seven were killed helping French journalists Edith Bouvier and William Daniels back to the Baba Amr field hospital, after their escape was shelled by the Syrian government.
  • Espinosa and Conroy managed to escape the city, but were subsequently separated in a further shelling attack, apparently targeted by the Syrian army, later that night.  Three volunteers died in this.

The network of brave volunteer activists, supported by Avaaz, completed Espinosa’s passage over the border this afternoon.

Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz said:
“As the Syrian Army tightens its iron grip around Homs, the staggering bravery of activists has freed another journalist today.  Javier Espinosa risked his own rescue when he was separated as he stopped to attend to wounded activists as they were shelled.  We can only hope that the bravery of these individuals is matched by the courage of the international community in stopping the horrific atrocities in Homs today.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact: London: Will Davies on [email protected] on +447855 419901 or Alex Renton or Nick Kimbrell in Beirut on +961 715 65495 or + 44 7957371902

Notes to editors:
Avaaz is a global campaigning organisation with over 13 million members which campaigns to change the world from the one we have, to the one most people want.  Avaaz has been working with activists on the Syrian Spring since it started, setting up a network of over 200 Citizen Journalists across the country, smuggling in medicines and international journalists to report on the unfolding story and campaigning to ensure that sanctions and political pressure are applied on the Assad regime.  The organisation is entirely funded by small donations from its members.